Introduction This mishnah brings the description of the seder to its conclusion.
One may not conclude the pesah meal with an afikoman. Saul Lieberman, the great Talmudic scholar of the past century, explained that “afikoman” refers to a Greco-Roman custom to engage in revelry at the conclusion of the symposium, the formal meal. People would go from house to house, drinking and carousing. The rabbis prohibited this custom, preferring instead that a Jew should discuss the laws of Pesah and the story of the Exodus until the morning prayers. As an aside, the fact that the rabbis had to assert the differences between the seder and the symposium strengthens the theory that the two were essentially not all that different, and that in essence the seder was a “Jewish symposium” as some scholars have called it. The Talmud explains the word “afikoman” in two ways. First, of all it may mean that one should not go from one house to the other. Secondly, it may mean that one should not eat anything after eating the pesah. Lieberman explains both as referring to the Greek custom of revelry. The foods which the Talmud proscribes were meant to whet one’s appetite so that one would wish to drink more.
If some of them fell asleep, they may eat [the pesah when they wake up]. If all of them fell asleep they may not eat. Rabbi Jose says: if they napped, they may eat, but if they fell asleep, they may not eat. This section deals with the laws concerning the pesah sacrifice. If some of the members of the “havurah”, the eating company, fell asleep during the meal, when they wake up they may continue to eat the pesah because other people stayed awake the whole time. However, if everyone fell asleep then they have all turned their attention away from the pesah and they may not go back to eating it. This is akin to eating the pesah in two different places, which is forbidden. [This sort of reminds me of our seder!] Rabbi Yose says that even if everyone fell asleep they may eat it, as long as they only napped. If they fell into a deep sleep, they may not eat it when they wake up.